Jump into the New Year with a Single Step: Applying Improv to Taking Chance in Life

We often hold ourselves back. I think one of the biggest benefits I gained from improv is an increased willingness to take the bull by the horns. Improv games like Freeze often require team members to jump into a scene. In Freeze game, two or more players will be acting out a scene and another member of the team will call “freeze” from the sidelines. The person calling “freeze” will tag out one of the players, assume the exact position that person was in and begin an entirely new scene. As a new player, the temptation is to wait for the “perfect moment” or until they have an idea to start the next scene. I hesitated a lot at the beginning. My teachers encouraged me to just jump in. They would notice several times I would start to go then pull myself back. When this happened, they would tell me, if you feel the urge just follow-through. Another tip was to just make the commitment that I would be next. Through exercises and object work they taught me how to find the inspiration to start a new scene.

At this time of the year we set new year’s resolutions with the intent to jump in but let something hold us back or derail us. Studies show most people give up on their new year’s resolutions by mid-January. In fact, there have been two days named to make us feel better about giving up on our resolutions. The first is Quitters Day on January 12. If you haven’t quit by then there is another chance on Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day on January 17. Things might move slow or seem off track, but I advise you just don’t quit.  Last year, I made a Commitment Beyond Comfort Zone to blog. My commitment to blogging made it weekly until February 2 and then fell silent. I felt the guilt of missing my goals and worse for not fulfilling my word, but the good news is that I didn’t quit. I continued to progress and make changes in my life to remove the many roadblocks and fears holding me back. In September I resumed my blogs which were roughly a month apart but still not consistent. Like the game freeze, I started to jump in with a blog when I felt the urge but was not regularly playing the game. Blogging remains part of my goals, but this year, I enter it with a new frame of mind and new systems to help me stay on target. The 12 Days of Blogs forced me to develop content every day. Over the past 11 days, I have been improvising a lot. When I started this series, I had a few key topics that I wanted to share, but for the most part have been just jumping each day with a commitment to post. Each one of these blogs was written the day it was published without my normal editorial process. I am sure when I re-read these next week, I will probably cringe a little with a thought of “I can’t believe I published that.” I am equally sure that I will find some wisdom in my writing while feeling proud of the fact that I accomplished this goal by genuinely sharing what is on my heart. I adjusted my expectations for 2020 for a more realistic monthly blog post and instituted a new calendar system to keep me on target. These blogs helped me to build momentum to launch into the new year.

I read many articles that indicate only about 8% of people who set goals will achieve them. We set our goals and resolutions based on an urge to change and move forward. If we don’t follow-through by jumping in and taking the next step, these goals quickly fade into distant dreams. As I expand Impactful Improv, I am introducing an inaugural event called IGNITE. I am combining some improv exercises to help us get beyond our comfort zone and then dig in with tools and techniques to help to get back on track to achieving our goals. I intentionally planned the inaugural half-day mini retreats for the day after Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day. My goal is to help my clients add oxygen to the proverbial fire to fuel progress throughout the year.

My personality type has always been highly analytical, so improv helped me to learn to act more quickly. On the stage some scenes were funny, others were hysterical, and few were painful. When I apply this principle to my life, sometimes the results are ok, on rare instances they are disaster and often the successes exceed my wildest imagination. Go ahead and jump into your goals this year, and if you are not ready to jump, take the first step. After all the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Even if you don’t make it all the way, you will be farther than if you took no step at all.

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